57 distinct Native American tribes operate 58 California Indian Casinos. How successful they are is apparent from the fact that last year, all the casinos in the US put together raked in $26.5 billion. It’s fair to say that gaming is a massive industry now.
It has grown pretty quick too. It was barely 20 odd years ago that the tribes were bickering with California over whether it was legal. The 1987 California vs Cabazon judgment won the tribes their right to open casinos outside of state regulations.
Just one year later, Congress passed the IGRA in 1988. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act forced the tribes to agree to have their casinos subject to regulation and state rules about what kind of games would be allowed. But the tribes still take home all the money.
The fifty-eight Indian casinos in California are distributed almost equally in Northern California and SoCal, with a few more in Central California. The combined slot machine count for all these casinos is 63,835 (and counting). More casinos – at least ten of them, are in the works and will be adding to the count soon.
As far as cities are concerned, San Diego is the Vegas of Indian gaming. There are 12 Indian casinos spread around San Diego county, including Valley Center’s Harrah’s Rincon Casino, Alpine’s Viejas Casino and Pauma Valley’s La Jolla Trading Post. If that’s not enough, more tribes are getting ready to open even more casinos in San Diego.
There’s a lot of scope for interpretation, when it comes to admission rules for these casinos. Most serve alcohol so they usually stick to not allowing Patrons below age 21 to play. That said, most allow kids to come in because many accompany parents when a family or group visits the casino as a tourist attraction. Still, it’s better to cross-check the rules for each casino before attempting to visit, in case there’s a minor in the group.
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